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E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 01-22-2011, 11:45 AM
aioros aioros is offline
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Question VALEO Alternator; rebuild or replace?

I want to rebuild or replace the alternator in my E39. So far I have not found anywhere the parts to rebuild it; like the voltage regulator, brushes, etc.
My car is equipped with the following:
- VALEO 120amp 14v #2541963A;
- bmw #12311432987/981
- voltage regulator #12311713839

Here are some links where I've found some for sale, but they are used, not re-manufactured units:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/BMW-E...Q5fAccessories

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Alter...Q5fAccessories

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/BMW-1...Q5fAccessories
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  #2  
Old 01-22-2011, 12:00 PM
aioros aioros is offline
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Stupid questions:
-Can you replace a 120amp alternator with a 140amp alternator?
-What would be the consequences?
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  #3  
Old 01-22-2011, 12:55 PM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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The DIY for Valeo alternator is by "EuroDavid" in roadfly forum:
http://bimmer.roadfly.com/bmw/forums/e39/9501067-9.html

Also, my DIY is here for Bosch alternator:
http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=454325

Check to be sure but you will need the following:

1. FRONT bearing is the larger type, difficult to find. Whatever you do, do NOT use Chinese bearing.
It is 17x52x17mm bearing. The only Place that sells the Bosch OEM bearing is Smith Electric in Colorado, $39:
http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/5-522...s#ht_828wt_834


2. REAR bearing is 6203-2RS (17x40x12mm). It is very easy to find. Use only Nachi, Koyo or SKF. Search ebay, it is about $8. Always use bearings with "2RS designation" (2 rubber seals).

http://cgi.ebay.com/6203-2NSE-RS-2RS...#ht_2648wt_813


3. The Voltage Regulator/Brush.
Call Smith Co (Info in my link above) and see if they can get you "HUCO" brand.
About $40-50.
If not, then buy new Valeo regulator from pelican Parts, $86:
https://www.pelicanparts.com/BMW/cat..._pg1.htm#item1
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  #4  
Old 01-22-2011, 01:03 PM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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I forgot to mention is that by doing it this way (All OEM stuff), you know you get an A1+++ quality factory Alternator!

99% Rebuilders in the US put junk parts in the alternators (I know for fact because I talked to these rebuilders!). So when you buy a rebuilt Valeo or Bosch all you get is:
- Chinese bearings (this is why some people have alternator failure in 12 months)
- Junky Regulator etc.

PS: The Slip Rings are usually good for some 250K miles, so get an emery cloth or very fine sand paper to smooth it out before re-installation.
No need to change the Slip Rings.

Last edited by cn90; 01-22-2011 at 07:37 PM.
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  #5  
Old 01-22-2011, 01:20 PM
aioros aioros is offline
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Thank you very much for the links and information CN90. I checked realoem.com and the voltage regulator for my car has this part #12311713839

http://realoem.com/bmw/showparts.do?...94&hg=12&fg=22

I believe the one in pelican parts is not the same for my unit.
Can I use BOSCH parts in the VALEO unit?
I will contact Smith Co about the VALEO unit and its parts.
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  #6  
Old 01-22-2011, 01:41 PM
aioros aioros is offline
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I just noticed this:
VALEO DIY mentions that the small bearing size is 15x35x11mm but you say it's 17x40x12mm.
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  #7  
Old 01-22-2011, 02:35 PM
aioros aioros is offline
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Here's another one:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eB...TQ:MOTORS:1123
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  #8  
Old 01-22-2011, 02:50 PM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aioros View Post
I just noticed this:
VALEO DIY mentions that the small bearing size is 15x35x11mm but you say it's 17x40x12mm.
aioros,

I think you are right. The REAR bearing is 6202-2RS type.
Use Nachi, it is a good brand.

Again, don't buy used alternator. For the same money, you can rebuild yours to a superior quality.
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  #9  
Old 01-22-2011, 02:53 PM
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bmw_n00b13 bmw_n00b13 is offline
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Are there any indicators the alternator may be failing? I notched mine has an odd high frequency sound; not sure if it's normal.


Sent from my iPhone. Please excuse typos and lack of links.
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  #10  
Old 01-22-2011, 03:06 PM
aioros aioros is offline
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to bmw_n0013:
no "real" or "obvious" indications. But the unit has 140,000 miles and I don't want to risk it. There's something going on though: whenever I use something that uses electricity like windows, lights, stereo, etc the RPM's get low to the point that the cars shakes and makes a noise but then they go back up close to 1 (thousand) then it normalizes. It does it also when I shift from P to R to D and back.
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  #11  
Old 01-22-2011, 03:59 PM
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bmw_n00b13 bmw_n00b13 is offline
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Hm, no signs of that yet. Good to know. If you have the time, always good to get it fixed before it breaks! I'm playing catch-up
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  #12  
Old 01-22-2011, 04:23 PM
aioros aioros is offline
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oh and I've checked the battery with a multi-meter to find that the voltage barely gets to 14V, it's mostly 13.89V and up.
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  #13  
Old 01-22-2011, 04:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmw_n00b13 View Post
Are there any indicators the alternator may be failing?
A few months before mine catastrophically failed, I heard a high-pitched whine every morning when I started the E39 up.
- One users' example of total electrical failure (AAA towed away) alternator repair (1) (2)

Of course, I replaced all the belt-drive components, so, I'm not sure which particular one caused the whine, but all the old rollers and pulleys I removed spun OK (albeit a bit dryly).

My assumption is that the alternator bearings were the problem all along, especially since the alternator subsequently failed all three AutoZone tests.

I suspect it fried itself from the friction heat.

BTW, for others looking to the VERY best of E39 Links to find alternator rebuild information, I'll cross reference this thread with the cn90 alternator rebuild thread so that this won't be missed when others to to cn90's thread.

cn90 already cross referenced the other way, so we're covered both ways.

NOTE: Ignore the question; the photo is reused.
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  #14  
Old 01-22-2011, 04:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aioros View Post
oh and I've checked the battery with a multi-meter to find that the voltage barely gets to 14V, it's mostly 13.89V and up.
- DIY how to test a BMW E39 battery & alternator


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  #15  
Old 01-22-2011, 07:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
I forgot to mention is that by doing it this way (All OEM stuff). you know you get an A1+++ quality factory Alternator!

99% Rebuilders in the US put junk parts in the alternators (I know for fact because I talked to these rebuilders!). So when you buy a rebuilt Valeo or Bosch all you get is:
- Chinese bearings (this is why some people have alternator failure in 12 months)
- Junky Regulator etc.

PS: The Slip Rings are usually good for some 250K miles, so get an emery cloth or very fine sand paper to smooth it out before re-installation.
No need to change the Slip Rings.
Great info!
Thank you again, Sir!
So, if I were to buy a NEW alternator, would it have Chinese junk in it as well?
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Old 01-22-2011, 11:51 PM
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540 M-Sport 540 M-Sport is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
I forgot to mention is that by doing it this way (All OEM stuff), you know you get an A1+++ quality factory Alternator!

99% Rebuilders in the US put junk parts in the alternators (I know for fact because I talked to these rebuilders!). So when you buy a rebuilt Valeo or Bosch all you get is:
- Chinese bearings (this is why some people have alternator failure in 12 months)
- Junky Regulator etc.

PS: The Slip Rings are usually good for some 250K miles, so get an emery cloth or very fine sand paper to smooth it out before re-installation.
No need to change the Slip Rings.
I don't think you can make a blanket statement that Bosch factory rebuilds use cheap parts, nor the BMW dealer provided ones. I have around 80k+ on mine (BMW rebuild). BMW provides a lifetime warranty.

I do know many independant electric shops and auto parts chain stores sell cheaply rebuilt electrical parts like starters and alternators that are sold at very low prices...even with lifetime warrantees. I've had friends buy them and after about the 3rd replacement, whent and bought a Bosch factory rebuild as he got tired of all the work replacing them.

But there are also quality rebuilders out there that use superior parts. Romaine Electric is one of them. I have even purchased parts for rebuilding an ND alternator from them.
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Last edited by 540 M-Sport; 01-22-2011 at 11:52 PM.
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  #17  
Old 01-23-2011, 07:19 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 540 M-Sport View Post
I don't think you can make a blanket statement that Bosch factory rebuilds use cheap parts, nor the BMW dealer provided ones. I have around 80k+ on mine (BMW rebuild). BMW provides a lifetime warranty....
When I said "99% of rebuilders out there...", I did not refer to BMW alternators because I have no idea where BMW gets their rebuilt alternators from.

What I meant is the poor quality of Bosch alternators you get from Pepboys, Advance Autoparts, OReilly, Autozone etc.

The truth is: in the US there are only a handful of rebuilders (maybe 8-10 of them) who rebuild the bulks of Bosch alternators and ship them to the "big box" boys like Pepboys, Advance Autoparts, OReilly, Autozone etc.

When I spoke to six (6) of these rebuilders, this is what they do:
- Change the bearings using Chinese bearings. Cost $30 for them.
This is why many people in diff forums have bearing failure after 40-50K.
- Inspect and test (not change) the regulator, if still good, re-use it.
This is why many people go through 3 diff alternators from Autozone in one year.

- Clean the Slip Rings a bit.
- Paint the casings so cosmetically it looks good.
So they spent $30, and charged $150-200, not bad business at all.

This is not the good old days from the 1980s and 1990s when rebuilders did a better job back then.
So I "go with the flow", i.e., I do not trust these rebuilders any longer, and do my own things.

Last edited by cn90; 01-23-2011 at 10:16 AM.
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  #18  
Old 01-23-2011, 07:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 540 M-Sport View Post
even with lifetime warrantees.
You know, I have NEVER in my life used one of those so-called lifetime warranties!

In general, by the time the "thing" that is warranted dies (be it brake pads, mufflers, radiators, alternators, batteries, tires, etc.), I've either lost my receipt, forgotten whom I purchased it from, moved away from the area where I purchased it, or sold the vehicle to someone else.

Furthermore, many warranties require a certain set of maintenance records, which I would have lost by then as well.

In addition, even if I didn't lose the receipt, forget whom I purchased it from, move away, lose my maintenance records, or sell the vehicle .... if I want to make good on the warranty I'd still have to ...
a) remove the part (thereby disabling the vehicle)
b) send it back to the place that warranted it
c) wait for them to say it was 'defective'
d) even if they say it was their fault ... I still have to wait for them
e) and then I'd have to buy ancillary parts from them

Or, even if the place that sold it to me would remove it for me, the labor isn't always free, so it could end up costing me more than just buying a replacement at the best prices and putting it in myself.

Now, I do have some experience with things (batteries, tires, etc.) that vastly prematurely failed (within a year or so, for example) ... and even then, they pro-rate the replacement so that, in the worst of cases, you spend MORE getting the warranty honored than if you just bought a new component yourself.

For example:
a) Say your battery is only 1 year old when it dies
b) Say you paid $100 on sale for that battery
c) Say you DID save all the receipts, and maintenance records, didn't sell the car, knew where it was bought, when, (etc.)
d) Even then ... when you go to the store ... they pro-rate the replacement
e) And, worse yet, you no longer have the advantage of the sale price

So, if the current price for that battery is, say, $150 (using round numbers), and if they give you half off, you end up spending $75 for that warranty replacement - plus labor (let's say it's $25 in labor) ... so guess what ... you can end up paying as much (or even more) for that "free" replacement.

Dunno about anyone else ... but I find almost all warranties absurdly useless ... and only some partially useful ... but NEVER would I ever buy a part based or make my buying decision based on the warranty terms (unless these terms were golden).

My idea of golden terms?
a) the store chain is ubiquitous throughout the United States
b) labor is included in the warranty
c) no need for the original receipt (they can keep the records themselves)
d) no pressure to buy from them if the warranty is denied
e) no need for maintenance records to be produced
f) the warranty applies to the car, not to the owner
etc.

If you know of a warranty like THAT, let me know and then it might be one of the buying criteria.

Maybe I should start a thread on warranties so that we can learn more and add value. Sorry for hijacking this thread!

See:
Have you ever found a "lifetime warranty" that met these basic criteria to be usable?
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Old 01-23-2011, 07:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
What I meant is the poor qaulity of Bosch alternators you get from Pepboys, Advance Autoparts, OReilly, Autozone etc.
When I bought my rebuilt Bosch 120 alternator from Oembimmerparts, there was something somewhere that said it was rebuilt not by Bosch but by some company in the UK (IIRC).

Anyone know more about the quality of those rebuilds?
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  #20  
Old 01-23-2011, 06:38 PM
aioros aioros is offline
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I just ordered both bearings. One from VXB and one from bearingsdirect. I found a few places where to buy the voltage regulator for about $125. It's a BMW genuine. I'll keep looking for a better price though.
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  #21  
Old 01-23-2011, 06:52 PM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aioros View Post
...I found a few places where to buy the voltage regulator for about $125. It's a BMW genuine. I'll keep looking for a better price though.
Did you look at Pelican? See thread #3 and item #3 above.
I posted the link to Pelican, the OEM Valeo regulator is $86.
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  #22  
Old 01-23-2011, 09:03 PM
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540 M-Sport 540 M-Sport is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
You know, I have NEVER in my life used one of those so-called lifetime warranties!

In general, by the time the "thing" that is warranted dies (be it brake pads, mufflers, radiators, alternators, batteries, tires, etc.), I've either lost my receipt, forgotten whom I purchased it from, moved away from the area where I purchased it, or sold the vehicle to someone else.

Furthermore, many warranties require a certain set of maintenance records, which I would have lost by then as well.

In addition, even if I didn't lose the receipt, forget whom I purchased it from, move away, lose my maintenance records, or sell the vehicle .... if I want to make good on the warranty I'd still have to ...
a) remove the part (thereby disabling the vehicle)
b) send it back to the place that warranted it
c) wait for them to say it was 'defective'
d) even if they say it was their fault ... I still have to wait for them
e) and then I'd have to buy ancillary parts from them

Or, even if the place that sold it to me would remove it for me, the labor isn't always free, so it could end up costing me more than just buying a replacement at the best prices and putting it in myself.

Now, I do have some experience with things (batteries, tires, etc.) that vastly prematurely failed (within a year or so, for example) ... and even then, they pro-rate the replacement so that, in the worst of cases, you spend MORE getting the warranty honored than if you just bought a new component yourself.

For example:
a) Say your battery is only 1 year old when it dies
b) Say you paid $100 on sale for that battery
c) Say you DID save all the receipts, and maintenance records, didn't sell the car, knew where it was bought, when, (etc.)
d) Even then ... when you go to the store ... they pro-rate the replacement
e) And, worse yet, you no longer have the advantage of the sale price

So, if the current price for that battery is, say, $150 (using round numbers), and if they give you half off, you end up spending $75 for that warranty replacement - plus labor (let's say it's $25 in labor) ... so guess what ... you can end up paying as much (or even more) for that "free" replacement.

Dunno about anyone else ... but I find almost all warranties absurdly useless ... and only some partially useful ... but NEVER would I ever buy a part based or make my buying decision based on the warranty terms (unless these terms were golden).

My idea of golden terms?
a) the store chain is ubiquitous throughout the United States
b) labor is included in the warranty
c) no need for the original receipt (they can keep the records themselves)
d) no pressure to buy from them if the warranty is denied
e) no need for maintenance records to be produced
f) the warranty applies to the car, not to the owner
etc.

If you know of a warranty like THAT, let me know and then it might be one of the buying criteria.

Maybe I should start a thread on warranties so that we can learn more and add value. Sorry for hijacking this thread!

See:
Have you ever found a "lifetime warranty" that met these basic criteria to be usable?
BMW dealers offer lifetime warrantees WITH labor, on the following parts, when installed at the dealership:
Mufflers
alternators
starters
shocks/struts
water pumps

All other BMW dealer sold parts include a 24 month unlimited mileage warranty, regardless of who installs it, AND INCLUDE LABOR. An example is a bought the Homelink system and several months later it failed. I went to the dealer, and the parts department required me to have the service dept inspect and diagnose. They confirmed the problem, and installed a new one under warranty, once I provided the receipt, which was from another BMW dealership, as I purchased it online.
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  #23  
Old 01-23-2011, 09:42 PM
aioros aioros is offline
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to CN90:
the one Pelican parts sells it's not for the alternator in my car. the part #'s are not the same.
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  #24  
Old 01-23-2011, 10:50 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aioros View Post
I just ordered both bearings
Let us know how long it takes, from start to finish, to obtain the parts at your doorstep.

This is because an alternator often dies suddenly.

If the parts come in a reasonable time, it adds to the feasibility of rebuilding the alternator yourself, even after a failure is noticed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 540 M-Sport View Post
BMW dealers offer lifetime warranties WITH labor, on the following parts
I'll move this over to the lifetime-warranty thread ...
- Have you ever found a "lifetime warranty" that met these basic criteria to be usable?
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  #25  
Old 01-24-2011, 05:16 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aioros View Post
to CN90:
the one Pelican parts sells it's not for the alternator in my car. the part #'s are not the same.
It is the same PN. The PN you mentioned is BMW PN but it cross-checked to another PN which is essentially the same!

Go to Pelican Parts website and enter 12311713839, you will get the same Valeo regulators for all those years, which Pelican PN 12-31-7-551-153-M262 ---> $86.
This same PN is used for all Valeo for the 6-cylinder engines during those years, 528i, 525i. 325i/Ci/iC/Xi (2001-05), 330i/Ci/iC/Xi (2001-05), M3 (2001-06) etc. etc.

If you are too worried then get the BMW regulator, which is $125.

Last edited by cn90; 01-24-2011 at 07:31 PM.
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